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by Jay Traugott
A European court has allowed the Japanese automaker to use the famous moniker.
The nomenclature 'GTI' was created back in the 1970s when Volkswagen launched its sporty version for the compact Golf and called it GTI. The 'GT' stood for a GT car, which of course the Golf has never been. The 'I' stood for the new novelty of '70s passenger cars: fuel injection systems. Later that acronym was used by Peugeot for a line of hot hatches based on super-mini and compact models such as the 205GTI and the 309GTI. Suzuki also produced a Swift GTI of its own.
In 2004, with a new Swift GTI due in Australia, Volkswagen decided to block the use of the coveted acronym and instigated a legal action to prevent Suzuki from using it. Suzuki renamed the Swift GTI Swift Sport but continued to pursue the matter in a body called the 'European Office for the Harmonization in the International Market' (OHIM). Its verdict was to allow Suzuki to continue using the acronym but only on the Swift and only with a small 'i'. Suzuki wasn't completely satisfied from the judgment and turned to a court that later allowed Suzuki to use the acronym since nobody would mistake a Swift for a Golf.
The legal brawl dragged out for a few years. Meanwhile, Volkswagen Group acquired 20 percent of Suzuki in order to increase its marketing might in the Indian market, in which Suzuki is the biggest automaker. However the two companies fell out last year. Now Suzuki (2012 Swift Sport Pictured) demands Volkswagen (2011 Golf GTI Edition 35 Pictured) to sell that 20 percent back to the company, though the legal battle over the use of the 'GTI' acronym has nothing to do with commercial dealings between the two companies. Volkswagen will now reportedly appeal to the European Court of Justice in another bid to prevent Suzuki from using their coveted moniker.